Employee wellness is more important in our new normal than ever before. In a changing world, disconnection and stress are significant risks your organization needs to address — because when employee wellness suffers, so does your company’s bottom line. Unexpected absences cost organization’s between $2,600 to $3,600 per year for the average employee. Many of the common factors that contribute to employee absenteeism — including illness, burnout, and depression — are directly linked to employees’ physical and emotional wellness.
With the wellness program tips and ideas below, you’ll have everything you need to create a healthy workforce at your organization.
Creating wellness programs
A wellness program is any initiative designed to improve an aspect of employees’ emotional or physical health. These two pieces of the wellness puzzle are linked and reinforcing: employees who eat well, exercise, and avoid unhealthy physical habits are likely to be healthier mentally, and vice versa.
Getting any wellness initiative off the ground requires some legwork. You need to ensure the relevant stakeholders in your organization, from the executive level on down, understand the value of employee wellness and buy into what you’re trying to achieve. Data on the current state of employee wellness, as well as related aspects of the employee experience, can help. You should also create a wellness committee that’s responsible for overseeing and implementing wellness programs at your company.
After starting wellness programs, you should keep an eye on how they perform so you can make necessary improvements and demonstrate their impact to key stakeholders. The best way to do this is by soliciting feedback from employees. Conduct pulse surveys focused on your programs, together with an always on feedback channel that employees can use to express their voice at any time. This provides you with accurate data in real time that you can quickly analyze and act on to keep your wellness programs effective and relevant.
You should also connect wellness programs to your company values and mission, so your employees see that your organization practices what it preaches. Employees are more likely to prioritize their own wellness if they see that it’s a key part of your organizational culture.
10 ideas for employee wellness programs
If you’re looking to boost employee wellness across your organization, try some of the winning programs discussed below.
1. Rewarding and incentivizing wellness
Ninety-two percent of employees are more likely to repeat behavior they’re recognized for, so start recognizing your employees for their wellness wins!
Wellness incentives shouldn’t take the form of one-size-fits-all rewards like mugs or t-shirts provided on an ad hoc basis. Not only will these rewards mean little to employees, it requires a significant amount of effort on the part of managers and HR to manually track and recognize employees’ wellness progress.
Make the process easy with an employee reward and recognition solution that integrates with a wellness platform instead. Everyone at your organization can then automatically earn reward points when they achieve wellness goals and milestones tracked in the platform. Since they can redeem these points in a centralized rewards marketplace for products and experiences they actually want, they’ll remain motivated to practice healthy habits on and off the job.
2. Combating burnout
Burnout is a chronic problem at many organizations, especially in our new normal. If your company is serious about wellness, fighting burnout has to be at the top of your agenda.
Start by gathering data to reveal the state of burnout at your organization and what’s causing it, preferably using tools like anonymous pulse surveys. Sources of burnout might include overwork, lack of necessary support or resources, or unfair treatment. Don’t disregard what you discover, even if it reveals uncomfortable truths about your organization’s work environment.
After you’ve identified the causes of burnout at your company, implement the necessary measures to fight them, at both the organization and team levels. Prioritize transparent communication, support work-life balance, and address feedback from employees quickly to minimize the effects of burnout at your company.
3. Flexibility and time off
Giving employees flexibility in how and when they work is a must, especially given the increased prevalence of remote work. Empowering employees with the autonomy to get the job done in the way that fits them best — without negatively impacting the rest of their team, of course — has big wellness benefits. Together with purpose and connection, it’s one of the three pillars of employee wellness identified by Gartner.
Beyond flexibility in terms of time and location, give employees more freedom in what tasks they handle and how they complete those tasks. Variety is the spice of life, especially at work, so even if it’s just taking on a new responsibility for a few days, changing things up can renew engagement and stave off burnout.
Providing employees with enough time to recharge is just as important as providing control over how they work. When work-life balance is skewed, you feel burned out and exhausted. It’s hard to prioritize other wellness practices when you’re in that state.
Clearly communicate that employees should use their PTO when they need it as well. Make sure employees know that using PTO is not only acceptable but encouraged. Emphasize to managers that balancing workloads to facilitate time off is a priority.
4. Encouraging mindfulness
Practicing mindfulness gives employees the self-awareness they need to combat the daily stressors everyone experiences. They’ll learn to get in touch with how they’re feeling in the moment and take the time to process those feelings before they act. With the understanding of themselves and others mindfulness provides, employees can respond to stressors thoughtfully and constructively.
You can direct employees to available mindfulness resources and even start offering mindfulness training to unlock its benefits for your workforce. Consider complementing these efforts with training on emotional intelligence — an individual’s ability to empathize with others. Successful managers need more than a high IQ to connect with their team members and build a healthy culture.
It’s hard to overstate the importance of fitness. A healthy lifestyle delivers benefits in every area of your life, including work. And no matter what your organization’s budget is, there are plenty of ways it can promote fitness.
Offering an on-site fitness center or sports area is an amazing perk that’s sure to boost employee fitness, but it requires a significant investment of resources. Starting fitness clubs at your organization around activities that team members enjoy can be just as effective, as can offering or paying for fitness classes. And reimbursing employees for the cost of gym or health club memberships is a simple, tangible way to show your investment in their fitness.
6. Health services
It can be a struggle to find time in your busy schedule to seek out the medical services you know you should. That’s why organizations should help team members get the care they need to stay healthy and productive.
To get more employees to take advantage of necessary health services, make it easy for them. There’s a huge range of services your organization can help provide, such as health risk assessments, health coaching, and in-office flu shots. These initiatives demonstrate that your organization cares about its employees’ wellbeing, and they’ll lead to a healthier and happier workforce.
It’s hard to practice healthy habits when you don’t know what they are, so educating your workforce is a key step on the path to wellness. In addition to educating employees on major topics like preventative care, you can also combat misinformation on issues like vaccination safety. There are many great third party resources available in the form of webinars, blogs, and online newsletters for you to use.
8. Encouraging healthy eating habits
We are what we eat. Relying on unhealthy comfort foods can sap employees’ energy and leave them feeling disengaged and lethargic, so do what you can to make eating healthy fun and easy for your employees.
Explore all available options on this front to find the best fit for your team. Ordering a healthy, tasty lunch for them on a regular basis is a great idea, as is providing healthy snacking options for the entire office. If your workforce is remote, you can send the snacks to them, or reimburse them for sourcing food from healthy providers, like local farmers’ markets. Educating employees on what healthy eating actually looks like, as well as on restaurants that offer healthy choices in the area, is also valuable.
9. Smoking cessation programs
Smoking remains one of the biggest health hazards facing individuals today, and second-hand smoke poses a danger to other team members. Over one-fifth of annual deaths in the U.S. are linked to the effects of smoking.
Despite the dangers posed by smoking, don’t make employees feel guilty. Instead, offer a helping hand and provide them with the resources they need to quit. Coaching, support groups, and reimbursement for the cost of quitting-related techniques and products are all excellent ways to support employees who want to stop smoking.
How your employees get to and from work affects their own health and the health of the environment. Instead of driving to work alone, employees can carpool and build camaraderie, bike and get in extra exercise, or use public transportation and ease traffic congestion. Encourage these initiatives by rewarding employees who participate and covering the cost of related equipment and services.
Making wellness a way of life
If you’re looking to boost wellness at your organization, there’s no need to go it alone. Achievers has your back. Achievers Recognize — a mobile-friendly, comprehensive recognition and reward solution — integrates with WellRight, a leading corporate wellness platform. Your employees will love redeeming points they earn for meeting their wellness goals. And Achievers Listen is the all-in-one employee engagement solution with the pulse surveys and always-on feedback channels you need to stay on top of the impact of your wellness programs.
See how Achievers can transform your wellness programs. Try a free demo today.